How to Write & Use White Papers in Your Content Marketing Strategy
So what is a white paper? A white paper is a cross between a magazine article and a corporate brochure. As white papers possess both the educative qualities of a magazine article and the persuasive qualities of a corporate brochure, they are considered to be one of the most powerful tools for content marketing, lead generation, branding, and more!
How Can You Use White Papers In Your Content Marketing Strategy?
Below is a list of the different ways in which you can use your white paper as part of your content marketing strategy:
1. Generate leads
White papers can help you generate leads. They are normally used earlier in the sales cycle when the customer is still looking for the perfect solution.
Through its informative nature, a white paper helps to educate the client about the problem they are facing and what they need to do to solve the problem. After the solution to the problem is provided, an option to use a readymade solution is offered.
As all the informative content provided earlier in the white paper shows the reader that the company that produced the white paper knows what they are talking about.
By displaying their expertise, the company’s hope is that the reader will want to work with them – trusting their solution to them rather than trying to accomplish it on his/her own.
2. Improve your brand image
White papers don’t have to be just used for generating leads. They can also help you build a brand image by educating your readers. By exemplifying problems and their solutions, you can explain how your company is run or how you are managing a certain project.
A great example of this is a white paper by Carol Tice, which she wrote for a big software company. The white paper didn’t pitch a product or service to the reader. It simply educated the reader about how the company makes an effort to recycle computers.
This type of white paper not only helps build a good brand image – as in the above example, it showed that the company cares about the environment – but it also helps them generate new clients, as people who are passionate about protecting the environment will likely prefer to work with them.
3. Make your products or services stand out
Using a white paper you can show your clients that your product is better than your competitors. In the white paper you can analyse different types of services and their flaws and let your readers know how these problems could affect them.
After you have made the problems clear you could let your readers know what the best solution would be and write this solution in relation to your product or service. This will show your readers that your product or service is much better than your competitors and it will convince them to hire you.
An example is a white paper I wrote for an electrical services firm that offers its services to offices and homes. The white paper demonstrates to the reader why it’s better to use a proper firm that offers all services than to hire tiny firms or electricians who work on their own. This helps my client show potential customers that their service is the best option.
4. Build a mailing list
Having a mailing list is one of the most important requirements of a blog or a website as it can help increase traffic, build relationships and generate leads. Normally just trying to convince people to sign up to your mailing list can be an extremely hard task, but if you give them a free gift like a helpful white paper in exchange for signing up to your newsletter, you can considerably increase the number of subscribers you get.
How To Get Started With Writing White Papers
Writing white papers can seem like a daunting task, but by following the right tips and techniques, the process can be simplified.
A few tips to help you get started:
Before you start writing white papers, you need to read all the information you can find about white papers. This includes books, blogs, and free guides you can find on the internet. This will help you learn a lot about white papers.
Another thing you could do is study well written white papers. This will help you learn more about what white papers are, how they are structured, how they are written, etc. Once you get to know how good white papers are written, you will find it easier to produce a quality one of your own.
Once you know what white papers are and how they are written, you can start writing them. You can start writing your first white paper on an imaginary company or on your own company. This will give you some practice and experience to help you write better white papers in the future.
Writing can be divided into three parts:
Before you do any actual writing you need to perform some research. Research can be in the form of reading and/or interviews. Read anything you can get hold of: website copy, other white papers, brochures, annual reports, articles, blogs, etc. Also interview the experts who work in your company. These experts can educate you about the product or service.
During this research process, find out more about the target audience and the best subject for your white paper.
During these interview and reading sessions make sure to take down notes of all the important points you come across that you think you could use in the white paper.
After you have gathered enough information for your white paper, you can outline its structure. A basic white paper structure starts with a headline, followed by an introduction. After the introduction the problems faced by the reader are discussed in detail and after that the solutions to the problems are discussed clearly. Finally, after the problems and the solutions comes the “persuasive brochure” section of the paper, which consists of the company information and product/service information.
Once you outline the structure and you know where all the information needs to be placed, you can start writing the white paper. Choosing the structure makes the writing part extremely easy. The writing part just consists of writing the content in the right places in the white paper. These are the places you’ve already decided while developing the structure.
After you finish writing the white paper, placing the appropriate content in the right places, you may find that you need to do some rearranging and rewriting so that all the elements flow logically. This final reworking and editing process will help ensure that your white paper is professional, educational and persuasive. You can then use your white in your content marketing, lead generation, and branding!
About the Author – Mitt Ray
Mitt Ray is the Director of imittcopy. He provides more white paper writing tips on his White Paper Blog, where you can download his free white paper on How to Write a White Paper. Mitt is also the Founder of Social Marketing Writing where you can download his free guide, “How to Promote Yourself With Pinterest.” He is also the author of the book White Paper Marketing. You can follow him on Twitter @MittRay.
photo thanks to katerha (Kate Ter Haar)
Would love to hear more about the frequency of white papers vs. other content in a content marketing strategy.
It would be even more useful to offer reviews of some tools you use – how to sift through the firehose of junk content generated from online search… and be practical on how to collect and mine your growing digital library of sources. Agreed writing is a lot of work … so how can we reduce the effort, get better search, auto-extract more info from each digital article, automate the capture of quotes, and catalog our digital/online sources?
Hi The Content Marketer,
I think you need to have only a few white papers compared to other marketing materials. You could have something like one white paper for every 50 to 100 blog posts. But you need to make sure you have at least one from the beginning. Especially if you want to generate leads quickly and if you also want to start collecting a mailing list as soon as you launch your blog or website.
One of the best places to find lots of good white papers is on white paper distribution websites. These websites host lots of white papers produced by different companies. You could look for the most popular white papers on those sights and download them. You could also subscribe to them as they will keep you updated on the latest and best white papers.
Another place you can find lots of good white papers is Hubspot. If you visit their Marketing Resources page http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-resources/ You will find loads of white papers and guides you can download for free.
Hope this helps. Thank you!
Good tips on writing. I would like more info on how to distribute white papers. I have a target industry in a local market. Besides posting on LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn groups and Twitter & Facebook, how can I find distribution sites that will reach my intended audience? Any advice on how to find the proper distribution channels would be helpful, thanks!
Thank you Ingrid.
Before you choose a white paper distribution service you need to decide on a budget as different services have different budgets. Some charge per month whereas others charge per lead.
After that you need to decide whether you want them to be hosted on a distribution services that specializes in your subject or on a general one.
Once you decide upon a budget and your ideal service you can start looking for the service that suits your white paper.
Here’s a fantastic list of white paper distribution services by Marketing Sherpa:-